Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mice and Memorial Day




The holiday weekend brought a glut of cars to the highways, most of them around here were headed north to open up summer cottages on one of Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes or going to cabins out in the boondocks where off-road recreational vehicles reign supreme. Over 3,000 other weekend warriors on the roads were pulling campers or were loaded up with camping gear headed to one of the state campgrounds. The lucky ones had reservations for the coveted campsites right on the beach. There is nothing better than waking up to the sight and sounds of water lapping the sand and seagulls looking for breakfast. Scoring a campsite away from the beach under the White Pines comes in a close second. Michiganders love Memorial Day weekends and it might seem like the original meaning of the holiday gets lost in mini vacations but it hasn’t. The stream of cars going in and out of the cemeteries the week before the holiday is as much of a tradition as having hot dogs and hamburgers on an outdoor grill. The military memorial services still go on. The Scout troops still clean up the veteran’s parks. The cemeteries are bright with flowers and flags and fresh cut grass and we remember... Boy, do we remember with feature stories in the media, war movie marathons on TV, Facebook posts and personal blogs.

This time of the year I'm wistful remembering trips up north. I cross over the highway and see the bumper to bumper traffic below and wish I was down there on my way to or from having fun, but my days of camping are long gone. Instead, I joined the homebody Michiganders who flood places like Lowe's and garden centers for do-it-yourself project supplies. The homebodies hate having sand up their bathing suits, fighting traffic and sharing showers with spiders in rustic campgrounds where a midnight walk with a flashlight to the public bathroom will not be enough to scare off the raccoons looking for careless campers who forgot to lock up their food.

I came back from my trip to Lowe's armed with ammunition for the war I’ve planned against mice. I have two coming to my bird feeder---at least I think I’m seeing two different size mice---but I’ve never seen them together. I want them dead because for the past 3-4 winters I’ve had signs of mice in my basement. I bait them down there, they eat the d-Con and I rarely see them dead. But I can’t bait them outside because of the birds and rabbits. First I tried a trap that the mice are supposed to go inside and not be able to escape but a clever mouse sprung it and moved it two feet off the path to the feeder. Next I dug a plastic paint pail into the ground below the feeder and I put a few sunflower seeds in the bottom. The birds should be able to get out if they go after the seed, but I’m told mice will not be able to climb up the slippery sides. Three days and no mice in the pail. One side of me is relieved. I don’t want them to suffer for days trying to scale the white wall before giving themselves a heart attack and I don’t think I could drop a rock on a mouse trapped in the bottom of a pail. I do own a BB gun but I’d probably shoot into the pail and have the BB bound back and put my eye out instead of killing the mouse. Can mice swim? Could I drown them?

It breaks my heart but after the rest of my birdseed is gone I’m no longer going to feed the birds except for those that eat jelly and the sugar water. I found a little stash of seeds in the basement and that was the last straw. No wonder condo communities have rules about feeding birds. I will miss seeing my cardinals and woodpeckers. Maybe I’ll get one of those videos they make for cats to watch of birds doing bird things inside the TV set.

My husband worked at a funeral home during high school and the experience indoctrinated him for life to the importance of being there to support the living and remember the dead. Decorating graves for Memorial Day was a big deal for him. I remember it all. Oh yes, the holiday get-aways but making sure the family graves were well tended before we went. I have not been to the cemetery yet to tend to Don’s stone but I’ll go soon. Half of it will be covered over with sand and I’ll carefully clean the gray granite and glue another Snoopy trinket on the corner that by fall will be in the pocket of some random kid...unless this year I put the Snoopy on the bait platform of a mouse trap that can snap down on little fingers that try to steal it. I suppose there’s a rule against that. Like condos, the cemeteries around here have rules for everything. ©

Don, I still miss your "Snoopy days."

22 comments:

  1. As I read Memorial Day blogs this year, I find it strange that I don't remember what we did on Memorial Day when I was a kid. I know there were no weekend trips or camping. Maybe we went out on my father's boat, and ate fried chicken, potato salad and iced tea. We did that sometimes, but I don't know if it was Memorial Day. H and I used to have cookouts at our house or go to a friend's house. We're more like the homebody types now. We stayed home and did projects around the house this year. Well, H did projects; I did laundry and cleaned bathrooms. :( I like Don's tradition of paying his respects to his loved ones on Memorial Day.

    I wish you all good luck with your mouse problem. I think if Kim Jong-un nukes us, cockroaches and mice will survive just fine. I had a deep sink in my first house, and a mouse got trapped in it one day. He could not scale the sides. I know because he tried over and over again while I waited for H to come home and remove him. No way was I going to touch that thing, and I could never have dropped a brick on him. So we kept each other company. Ug!

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    1. When you and I were kids, did we even have long weekends like we do now? Memorial day, for example, was moved around to observed on Mondays so that they can shut down the government for long weekends and employers weren't so quick close down on Fridays or Mondays. We always had a cottage to go to and I remember a lot of cook outs and we kids camped in woods behind the cottage.

      My niece told me that they had trouble with mice in a barn once and they put an ear of corn in a tall waste basket. The next day there were dozen mice piled up! How did H get the mouse out? I thought about putting a jar over it but they'd probably be too quick and run out when it got tipped to cap.

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  2. Oh, my. Your mice sound as persistent as the squirrels, but I understand the need to rid yourself of them -- and the sadness of not feeding the birds. When my seed is gone, I'm going to have to make the same move. It isn't mice or squirrels that I'm fighting, but pigeons. I hate to call any bird awful, but... These are awful. If only they wouldn't make such a unholy, unhealthy mess. I'm going to see if I can keep water out, but that draws them, too. Still, I'm hoping they won't hang around as much if they just fly in for a drink.

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    1. I'm thinking of doing the same thing...keeping water out and see how that goes. For me, it will probably work because I'm not fighting big birds like pigeons. Still, woodpeckers never drink from a birdbath and they are the ones I like the best.

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  3. Oh my goodness I had forgotten how every Memorial Weekend my parents would load up the car with things "to garden" and we kids would all pile into the car. We would go from grave site to grave site and clean up around the grave stones and plant flowers or do what was required because each cemetery had their own rules. This was done religious each year on what my mother referred to as Decoration Day. Wow did you bring back a flood of memories. Thanks!! :-)

    Good luck with the mice. You know what I've been through of late - but all gone!!!

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    1. Don and I took care of nine gravesites from his family and I let my brother do the one from my side. Got pretty costly, too. He had tagged alone with his mother when it was her responsibility and if we'd had kids they'd probably would be doing some of them. Traditions are important.

      "All gone!" Now that is something to celebrate.

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  4. The thing with traps and poison is being careful to not let any of the other animals get into them, you don't have that luxury in this case, I'm sorry that I don't have any ideas at the moment.

    We have a large variety of birds here also, a bird bath will still draw a lot in for you, so all is not lost.

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    1. My dog refuses to go down the basement steps so I know he won't get in the bait down there. Last fall I hired a guy to try to find out where the mine are coming in and fix it but there is a place where my sump pump pipes come into the house that we can't get at from the outside (low deck over top) and inside there is a furnace run in the way in the way. I think when my lawn care guy extended out the drain it moved the pipe around enough to create an entry point at the foundation. It's tempting to just throw bait blocks under the deck but one winter I had rabbits going under there to eat stuff not covered over with snow.

      Since I won't be buying anymore seed, that's a great excuse to upgrade my bird bath. LOL

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  5. I just provide water only for birds in the summer. There should be enough for them to eat in nature and my fountain is a busy place as the birds come and go for my watching.
    As for mice, I repel them with peppermint. Yep, it does work. I soak cotton balls with peppermint essential oils and put them under my car hood where they had been going to eat my wiring. Not only works but it is easy to find my car in the parking lot. I follow my nose.

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    1. That's encouraging on the water fountain! I know they have solar heaters, too, that I can get for winter.

      I've heard of using peppermint (and dryer sheets) but it use would take a lot of cotton balls for my basement. LOL I seriously wish I could get close to the point where I think they are coming in. It's under my deck on the outside and behind a furnace vent on the inside.

      On the good side, I've killed two mice this week---one in and one out but I don't think they are the two I wanted that were a different color.

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  6. The birds will be around, even if you don't feed them! I know that if you have a feeder you can observe them closely, but it is a problem that the seed attracts squirrels, mice, and around here, bears. That's why we no longer feed the birds, except for the hummingbirds, which I don't think any other animals are attracted to. This year we are hearing a lot more birds than usual. The garden flowers are really good this year as well, it must be all the rain we are having, and the cooler weather.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Yesterday I had a huge woodpecker come and check out a wind-chime I where I had previously had a feeder. He seemed so confused. Bears? That's a great reason not to feed the birds!

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  7. I agree: Traditions are important. The way I'm seeing it, there are always a few person(s) (sometimes the most unexpected child or person) that carry a tradition forward.

    Its funny - I'm glad that my mother passed away (she was in pain and wanted desperately to go), yet I still grieve for my husband??

    I sympathise with your mice problem. Like you, I'd think I'd not be able to throw a brick on a mouse. But you never know - a few months ago, I had two mice (each a day apart) tottering/crawling into my backyard. When they saw me, each became still and played dead. I did NOT want them going into the house. I picked up a brick and chucked it at the first mouse and of course missed. Then I got mad at the idea of that pest crawling into my house and picked up the brick and chucked it above the mouse's head (and shuddered after). When the second mouse appeared the next day, I had less compunction in killing it. I checked with the neighbours but both said no mice/nor mouse bait used recently (on reflection, my question was stupid!). I think both were poisoned and hence their slow creeping on the ground. In one way, I suppose I put them out of their suffering quick-smart. For some reason, I thought of 'Gone with the wind" and Melanie and Scarlett when they killed that soldier - you never know what you're capable of until you're put in a situation. ~ Libby

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    1. Those mice do sound sick if you could get close enough to throw a brick at them. I'll bet a neighbor did bait them and didn't want to admit it. Let's hope that was the case because mice can get diseases human can catch.

      I agree with you on carrying out traditions...there is always one in every generation...same with an interest in genealogy.

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  8. 11,000 lakes! OMG! I had to go find a map of Michigan to see. That's just the namedlakes, there are 62,000 if those smaller than 5 acres are included. Yowza!

    There's a fabulous re-usable mouse trap on Amazon. I prefer quick and dirty. I don't want the meese to suffer. Mine are cute...Beatrix Potter variety, and I had to kill over 50 the year after I moved in. Finally figured out the best place to put the traps (just inside the garage door) dressed
    with peanut butter and a few seeds dropped on top. The trap is plastic and I could operate the release bar easily with a paper towel dropped over the whole affair. Cost was about $5 for two, and those two are still in operation. I too had to stop feeding the birds because it attracted so many rodents even though I transferred the seeds to plastic jars with snug lids. A mouse's smeller is phenomenal.

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    1. No one in Michigan needs to drive far to find a lake. I just have walk a block to the end of the street. And I go by others every time I leave the house.

      I just bought some white plastic traps (2 for $5) but the mice were able to eat the peanut butter twice without tripping them. I bait in the garage the same place you do.

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  9. I see that photo at the top and I do believe I have camped on that very site. The National forest camping area on Highway 2--west of the Bridge. Very rustic--on top of the sand dune over looking Lake Michigan. No showers--nothing like that--nothing like our State Parks, but boy did I love it there. As for Mice--I haven't had any in this place--yet. Stink Bugs and ants, but that's it. I replenish the D-Con boxes under my unit every fall. I actually like mice so it makes me sad to trap them and find them dead--I feel so bad. With the D-Con, I can't see the torture they go through.

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    1. I've camped there too, not sure if it was the very site, but one that looked just like it. It was a favorite place of ours.

      You have two cats. I doubt a mouse would last long inside your mobile home. LOL I wish we could still buy the d-Con with the little pellets, I don't like the cakes as well but like you, I like not having to see them dead and they don't smell.

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  10. I hate mice, and living in a rural house means that they are always an issue. I use the old-fashioned mouse traps when I see signs of mice in the house, but I have to steel myself to empty the traps. For the past two years, we have had a family of foxes living (and breeding!) in our neighborhood, and they have been doing an admirable job of keeping the mouse population down. Last year, we had two fox kits and this winter I only saw one mouse in the house. This spring, there were three new kits, so I'm hoping for relief from mice next winter, too.

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    1. I have to go back to Lowe's for those old fashioned mouse traps. The white plastic ones that I just bought twice in three days the mice were able to eat the peanut butter without setting off the trap! And they seem smart enough not to go down in the plastic pail. I used to see a cat in the nature strip behind my house stalking mice but it doesn't come around anymore. I need one of your kits!

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  11. Where I grew up in N. Illinois Memorial Day was always hot and sunny and festive. At least that's how I remember it. Going to the cemeteries was great fun...and I also understood the reverence my parents felt decorating the graves of their parents and others. I miss those traditions here....none of 'my people' are buried near where I live, of course, since I left Illinois and my dad's folks in Indiana. Still, I love the tradition and love to see the graves festooned with flowers as I drive by.

    Rodents! Ugh! We had a rat get into our garage last year (I blogged about that), but battling the squirrels is a close second. They have decimated our holly tree -- the branches are completely bare on one side about 1/2 way up! I would think the prickly leaves would deter them, but not; I can see the sitting in the tree munching away at the berries. The thing is, I don't think I could kill any of those critters either. Bait, yes, but a rock to the head or a BB? No, I don't think so.

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    1. I have always loved squirrels until I got Levi, now I only dislike them because they make him bark. I can't imagine them eating holly plants! I used to work with that stuff in the floral industry and had to wear gloves. I couldn't kill or bait a squirrel but I could life trap one to relocate it, if necessary. My war on mice might be over. I killed three and it's been a week since without finding a dead one or seeing a live one under my feeder.

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